Sunday, November 11, 2012

Random Bar Guy

One of my good friends, we'll call her M, has a knack for picking up random guys in bars, through sheer will and exuding some kind of random bar guy scent, meaning she didn't have to do anything and they would seek her out. She had better luck than another good friend, who we'll call Lucky. Lucky, I have personally seen get picked up at an ATM, in a food court, and on the street by perfect strangers. M simply enters a bar and proceeds to be pursued by a random bar guy or random bar guys. That is, until she married a very un-random, very un-bar guy.

The question of the day is, can you sustain a relationship with a guy you met in a bar? In M's case, she would spend a couple of dances with them, and then disappear.

In my single days, I tried an experiment. (And by "single days" I mean a couple of weeks that I was single between my ex-husband and ex-boyfriend, but that's another story) I have a good friend, Brian, who I used to go out to bars and clubs with occasionally. I am the kind of girl who loves t-shirts and jeans like no other. When I went out, I would wear my Converse All-Stars, a t-shirt and jeans. I have been seen in a corset, still with jeans, and heels, in jeans, with a t-shirt, but those were special occasions.

Since I was newly single, I asked Brian something like this, "If you saw a girl in a slutty shirt with lots of cleavage in a short skirt, and a girl like me in a t-shirt, who would you go for?" knowing that some guys like the t-shirt girl. Brian, being honest, surprised me. He said, "It would depend on her face. If she looks approachable, I'd go for it." This was bad news for a girl whose "normal" face looks mad or annoyed, and who usually actually IS mad or annoyed.

So I started the experiment then next time I went to a bar. I did wear a tank top, because Brian said shoulders are sexy, but I have no cleavage, so I didn't really feel like a sell-out. Fortunately, I wasn't with M or Lucky, so I stood a chance at meeting someone. I stood at the bar, near my girlfriend, but staying open, and kept what I think was a "pleasant" expression on my face. And let me tell you, this took some serious concentration and constant awareness of my face. I made eye contact, and gave my number to three guys that night. Brian was appalled. Apparently what he hadn't told me is that you shouldn't give your number to strangers.

Anyway, I went home that night, thrilled with my experiment, and that one of those guys was actually "kind of cute." But the experiment was over, it was too much work. However, the kind of cute guy pursued me, and long story short, we dated for about a year and a half, and it wasn't great, although I did grow a lot in that time.

So back to my question: Can you sustain a relationship with a guy you met in a bar? Did I or didn't I? I almost married him, but it would have been a huge mistake. But we dated for over a year. But it ended.

Here's what I think. This guy was looking for a relationship. I wanted to re-marry, but wasn't ready so soon after my divorce. Should he have been looking for a relationship in a bar? I don't know. But I think not. Because I am a pretty honest person, but I believe we both started the relationship in deceit. I pretended to be a pleasant person, and he pretended to be an open person. I learned more about him that night than I would learn over the next year. He learned that I am not a naturally pleasant person, I tend to use my annoyed face most of the time, and he found me unmotivated. (But for the record, he was wrong about that, because I got a great job and a Bachelor's degree, adopted two kids and got married within a couple years of meeting him)

So random bar guys can be fun, as M will attest, but the bar is for the random people, not for the relationship people. Because it's hard to build a relationship with the girls with the shoulders and the pleasant face when she really just wants to slip back into her t-shirt, jeans, and fuzzy slippers.

Did I mention the fuzzy slippers?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Artichoke Festival

Enough of the serious stuff. Let's talk about something fun: The Artichoke Festival. Or more accurately, a weekend with the girls.

I am fortunate enough to be married to a very trusting, understanding and supportive husband. I hope that he considers me as trusting, understanding and supportive as well. He did not hesitate when I told him I wanted to spend the weekend with the girls in Castroville at the Artichoke Festival.

Having 2 boys for about a year now, I am settling into the understanding that kids do not give you a break. They do not care if you are tired, or sick, or busy, or on one phone with Verizon while you desperately try to fix your other phone.

My husband and I took the kids to San Diego for a week. We fortunately had a suite that allowed us to be separated from them during nap and bedtime, but spent every other waking hour with them, sometimes in close quarters, or running ourselves ragged an the zoo, safari park, Balboa Park, Sea World, etc. Six hours in the car meant six hours of, "Mommy! A bus! Daddy! A bus! Mommy, where did the bus go? Mommy? Mommy? Mommy?"

When we got home, it was back to the daily grind. More talk about "a bus" and trying to tire the kids out so they would nap and sleep at night, while simultaneously tiring ourselves out. There's a reason people started getting married and having kids at 18 back in the day. 43 and 32 are having a hard time keeping up with the little ones.

Back to girl time. First of all, what a relief. I live with boys. My husband is a boy, I have two sons, and a male dog. I occasionally spend time with women. I see my mother in law and my mom about once a week. I see women sometimes when I'm out and about. I relish my time shopping at Michael's, where women are the majority, but in general I spend time listening to Henry talk about poop, seeing Sam throwing things-anything-in the house, and watching my husband do guy stuff. I have five close friends who all live or have ties within 50 minutes of where I live. I will thank all of their understanding significant others as well for letting us have some time alone. And I have to hand it to the girls, there was a little guy talk, and some texting, but we mostly had each other's undivided attention.

Don't get me wrong-the artichoke festival was fun. We ate a lot, laughed a lot, bought artichoke souvenirs and made up a song about it, but it's really about the girl time. We played Apples to Apples late at night until the cards ran out, ate pizza, went swimming/hot tubbing, bought nail polish and hair dye, and talked about girl stuff. We shared beds, and secrets, and had real quality time.

The girls remembered my birthday. I opened gifts-which I wasn't expecting and they surprised me by not only getting me a pie, but knowing my favorite kind. I did speak with Hank, and also the kids, very briefly, but most of the weekend was spent reconnecting with girls I love.

I love my husband. I love my boys. I even love the dog. Having Sam throw his arms around me and Henry spontaneously say, "I love you" is maybe the best thing in the world. But there is nothing like girlfriends. Magazines for women are always talking about frenemies, and what to do when your friend backstabs you, or how to handle their envy. These girls are not envious, secretly hoping I fail, or gossiping behind my back. They listen, are generous, have my best interests at heart, want to spend time with me, love my family, respect my decisions, and help me understand my needs and self better than I know myself. I can just be me, and it's so easy with them.

Any other kind of friend is just not worth having.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Pregnancy Envy

It seems to be everywhere. Women today are just having more trouble getting pregnant than our mothers. My friend Megan found an article, ( on pregnancy envy, and how to cope. She posted the article on Facebook with a positive note. Her friends were full of helpful comments about how it took them a few years to get pregnant, and then, wham! They have five kids. And then there are a few like me. I said, "And sometimes it just never happens." 13 comments on the article.

The main points of the article were respectable. First, feeling envy is normal, and a perfectly acceptable emotion. True. Next, find your triggers. For example, if you can't handle baby showers-don't go. Third, remember your spouse (I would change this to partner). He or she may be having a hard time, too, and sometimes it can be helpful to lean on each other. Finally, find a way to cope that works for you-keep a journal, blog, or connect with family and friends. (I would add that no one understands like a woman who has never been pregnant, and that was something that was helpful to me)

So, it's no secret that I had trouble conceiving for various reasons, and soon after my husband and I married, we chose to adopt, and through twists and turns made an informed decision about which method to go, and now we have two little babies, and we couldn't be happier (noted in previous blog post).

Now the opinions come out. First of all, excuse me, Lady-who-got-pregnant-in-2-months-but-still-felt-envy-until-then-I don't feel sorry for you.

The article was pretty good, but I would also add don't take it out on people you care about. Friends get pregnant, that's what they do. Complain to someone else about it, you don't want to lose a good friend in the meantime. (Especially if you are going to love your little "nieces" and "nephews" like no other!)

It's just my opinion on the article, I think they should add that. Skip the baby shower, yes, but don't lose a friend in the meantime.

Another thing is to live your life as though you are not going to get pregnant any minute. Take jobs that could lead to careers. Stay in school, or go back to school. If and when it happens, these plans are easily changed. After you find out, you still have about 8 months before the baby comes, plenty of time to finish the next semester, or give your job 2 weeks notice if need be. Don't put your life on hold waiting for that baby. Because, guess what? Five years later you don't have your degree OR your baby (me). I finally gave up, bought a truck instead of a family car, got a great job and finished my degree. I also started looking into single parenthood. Then life changed, but now I had some years of career experience, a degree, and my plans were easily changed into coupledom and parenthood.

I'll tell you what, though. For me, acceptance was the biggest relief. Accepting that I probably wasn't ever going to get pregnant, it was like, okay, on to the next step, but it's so hard to get a clear answer on that, almost impossible. It took me ten years to accept it, and decide that there was another option for me. I quit trying, and now I'm on BC pills until the voluntary hysterectomy, so it's over, but there's still a part of me that thinks, What if a miracle happened? 

Please don't take this as advice. You should do whatever you feel is right if and when you start feeling some envy. I feel it, even with my little babies asleep soundly and safely in their beds. I can't blame a friend for sharing what she shares about her pregnancy. I gloat about my little ones, and about my awesome husband, and I'm sure that's hard for some people, too. But I feel like, they don't know all the pain that came with getting here. And that I still experience. So pregnant women should be able to be excited and "complain" about, ugh, the nausea. And I should be able to not comment, block her, and say to myself, Oh, boo hoo. I'd kill to have morning sickness. 

There are a lot of people who are having a hard time these days. But those people are so often optimistic. "It took me 4 years, but it happened." Or "God has a plan," etc. Those people are very different from those of us who NEVER got pregnant and NEVER will. We're pessimistic, and realistic. We know it doesn't happen for everyone. We know that two of our own husbands may have gotten their respective other wives pregnant, but it just didn't happen for us. We know that you can try everything, and all it brings is disappointment. I want it to happen for my friends. I love my boys so much, I know they were meant to be mine, and adoption is a whole other kind of amazing, one that I wouldn't want to miss, but I still think, why couldn't you have just come out of me to get here? Why couldn't I have that experience that so many people (including their bio mom) take for granted? So many of my friends are struggling with it right now, and I want them to be able to experience pregnancy. At the same time, I know it will be hard for me, even though it's all said and done in that chapter of my life. 

I don't want to give advice, but it's here if someone chooses to take it. My main complaints are the following: I don't need pregnancy advice, hope, or inspiration. I don't want to be grateful for this trial that will make me stronger and take me down a different life path. I want to be sad, and I don't want to come to your baby shower. I also don't want to lose you as a friend, and you deserve to be happy and excited about your pregnancy. I don't want to take that away from you or make you feel awkward.

And at this stage in my life, some of that is not true anymore. I don't need pregnancy advice because soon I will not have a uterus, and it's off the table. I am a little grateful because by adopting I found my little soul babies, and I couldn't be happier, and I didn't contribute to the population. I do want to come to your baby shower, because I'm excited for you, and want to love your new baby.

But fot the past ten years? What helped was limiting my contact with pregnant women (don't visit a young married ward at BYU), letting myself feel what I was feeling, going to bed when the disappointments were acute, enjoying my relationships baby-free, and talking to adoptive moms and moms who had a hard time getting pregnant, or never carried a baby full term-but it has to be someone who's sensitive to your situation-sometimes moms don't understand that just because she got pregnant after years of trying, it doesn't mean I will.

I love babies. For me, once my friends had pushed that baby out, the envy was over for me, hand over that baby. I have a great life, and now I have babies of my own that my friends and family love and spoil. I know that's not the case for everyone. I wish all my friends luck in having whatever baby experience is in the cards for them, and that, in the meantime, they can utilize this time wisely, unlike me. In hindsight, that made it a little easier-but not much.